Engaging volunteers has rewarding outcomes for a community arts education organization. Involving people from your community who are passionate about arts education helps advance your mission. Through the robust volunteer-staff partnerships that develop, you can multiply your impact on students and families. And volunteers can help you reach new audiences, strengthen community connections, and champion the value of access to arts education. Beyond their day-to-day contributions, volunteers have potential that organizations tend to overlook.
Every community arts education organization can find ways to involve volunteers. Here are some examples:
- At Flint School of Performing Arts in Michigan, volunteers greet guests at the annual open house, help with fundraising events, chaperone traveling youth ensemble members, host visiting artists and students, and work in the office and library.
- Parent volunteers at People’s Music School, Chicago, fulfill a volunteer requirement to maintain their children’s free admission by helping with events, administrative tasks, marketing initiatives, light custodial needs, and other tasks.
- Volunteer mentors at Free Arts NYC work in teams with part-time teaching artists in four core programs, with a ratio of about one volunteer to three participants. Volunteers make up most of the Free Arts NYC staff.
- More than 100 volunteer faculty devote one hour of their time each week to teaching visual arts, music, creative writing, dance, drama, and digital arts at Washington, DC's Sitar Arts Center.
No matter how you design a volunteer program—with ongoing roles or short-term tasks, with many volunteers or just a few—the same principles and practices apply. Volunteers want the opportunity to make a difference and responsibilities that make good use of their skills and talents. Like paid staff, they thrive in a supportive atmosphere where their contributions are valued and they’re part of a team working toward a shared purpose.